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AFC Champions League winner Kim pays tribute to players, staff and parents in emotional Ulsan Hyundai farewell


Doha: Ulsan Hyundai FC head coach Kim Do-hoon chose to bow out at the top, bidding farewell to his club immediately after leading them to the 2020 AFC Champions League title on Saturday.

Over 8,000 socially distanced fans watched from the stands at Al Janoub Stadium as the Horangi came from behind to defeat Persepolis FC 2-1 in a thrilling final thanks to a brace from Brazilian striker Junior Negrao either side of the half-time break.

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“I want to thank the players who sacrificed for the whole game and did their best to win,” said the 50-year-old.

“I would also like to thank those players who got injured and had to go back to Korea Republic and even those who could not come with the team because they were not in the squad.

"I am really proud of my team for fighting until the end and getting the trophy. I would like to thank the club and the president who trusted me a lot. I am really thankful for them all."

Ulsan Hyundai had narrowly missed on the 2020 K League 1 title, finishing the season in second place, two points behind Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Kim’s men faced further disappointment, losing the Korea FA Cup final to Jeonbuk just a week before arriving in Doha for the 2020 AFC Champions League.

Final: Persepolis FC 1-2 Ulsan Hyundai FC

“We lost two titles in Korea and were a bit frustrated but since coming here, the players proved that football is about having fun and being happy and I hope they can win more titles in the future.

“I was actually not supposed to be here in Qatar because the results we achieved in Korea were not so good, but somehow, I came here and my wife was rooting for the team and for me and eventually I got the honour of lifting this trophy.

“I am really happy that I made the decision to come to Qatar. I feel sorry that our fans could not be with us today, but I know they will be very happy with the result we achieved here. As for me, my contract ends today, so these are my last moments with the club. I need to get some rest back in Korea.”

Kim had become the first man to play and coach in AFC Champions League finals, having represented Seongnam Chunma Ilhwa in the 2004 final which they lost to Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad 6-4 on aggregate, and after getting his hands on the trophy 16 years later, the Ulsan Hyundai boss made sure to pay tributes to those who supported him.

“I want to express my appreciation for my parents; my father passed away earlier this season. He always gave me a lot of support and I believe he was rooting for Ulsan from the sky. I would also like to say thank you to my mother back in Korea who continued to cheer for us in every game."

“I would also like to thank the coaching staff even if I was lucky enough to be the manager, they were the ones who always supported me, also I want to thank the physio, the kit manager and all the staff at the club.

"I would like to say thank you for everything.”

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